The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch is mentioned several times in the first book of the Sparlock Trilogy. This work of art is a triptych. It is painted on a set of connected panels that can be displayed either open or closed. The outer panels depict a somber greenish-gray scene. A flat earth, covered with vegetation, is enveloped by a transparent sphere. It appears to depict the third creative day from Genesis.
The interior panels are very different. The left panel shows God presenting Eve to Adam in the Garden of Eden. The larger middle panel is filled with an abundance of nude figures, plants, and animals in a garden setting. The right panel depicts a hellscape, complete with a variety of torments associated with damnation.
Back in 2008, I was invited to compose a piece for a bassoon concert in Angoulême, France. Each piece would be based on a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. I chose the outer panels of The Garden of Earthly Delights and composed a short trio for bassoon, cello and piano. Here is a video with a computerized rendition of that piece.
This painting made an impression on me during the years that followed. When I was doing research for my novel The Great Apocalypse, I noticed that the painting matched some of the themes I was trying to develop. It didn’t take long before I found a way to include it in the story.